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Seniors return to BCCC Dental Hygiene Clinic for free preventive care

Bill Fleming | 11/6/2015, 11 a.m.
The annual push to provide free preventive dental health services to area seniors 62 and over made for a busy ...
left to right) BCCC Dental Hygiene student Olga Pach; Dental Hygiene Clinic patient Lorena Snow; and Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene Terry Doty. (Photo: BCCC)

— The annual push to provide free preventive dental health services to area seniors 62 and over made for a busy week at the Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) Dental Hygiene Clinic. Between October 19 and 23, 2015, the clinic handled 34 appointment slots for a total dispensation— using the average insurance reimbursement rate in the city of Baltimore— of approximately $13,352 worth of patient services, or $392 per person registered.

According to Kimberly Erdman, RDH, PHDHP, M.S.D.H., coordinator of the clinic and assistant professor of dental hygiene at BCCC, the Senior Week effort represents an important public health initiative as many diseases can go undetected until they are first revealed during a routine oral health exam.

“We try to be thorough,” Erdman said. “Patients received free medical history and blood pressure screenings, oral cancer exams, x-rays, complete periodontal evaluations, dental/cavity exams, cleaning of dentures and partials, oral prophylaxix (dental hygiene cleaning), fluoride treatments and oral hygiene instructions. We also like to provide tobacco cessation and nutritional counseling.”

To evangelist Lorena Snow of Baltimore, a gospel singer who has acquired the nickname, “Mahalia Jackson” by members of her church, the BCCC Dental Hygiene staff does a beautiful job. “I’ve been coming here for several years and I love everything about it!” she said, motioning toward her hygienist, Dental Hygiene student Olga Pach of Essex, Md. “And [BCCC Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene] Terry Doty is a great instructor!”

Denise Lorick of Baltimore was similarly impressed. She got her x-rays, cleaning and oral cancer exam from Reena Delrahim, BCCC Dental Hygiene student from Pikesville, Md., who on this particular day promoted the event to Denise as part of a community service requirement in the program. Denise needed little persuading, though, as she has been coming to the clinic for 11 years. “Dental hygiene is great here,” she said. “They have all the right services and they take great care of your mouth.”

For Dental Hygiene student Kristina Savage, a Carroll County resident who became interested in the field after shadowing dental hygienists in various settings, the opportunity to practice the craft in a public health, practice or teaching capacity is especially appealing. Upon completion of her BCCC studies she will take the board examination and pursue her licensure to become a dental hygienist.

Louise Gross, Kristina’s patient who has been participating in Senior Week for several years and visits the clinic twice per year says, “They do impeccable work – scaling, cleaning, everything!”

BCCC Dental Hygiene student Victoria Moran didn’t have to look very far for her patient— her father, Marty Moran.

"They do a very thorough cleaning, probably the best one I have ever had!" Moran said, to the smiles of his daughter.

"I needed his mouth!" said Victoria who became interested in dental hygiene after developing a knack for the work and owing to the fact that the field offers flexibility and a hot job market for those with as little as two years' training.

According to Erdman, you need at least an associate degree to become a dental hygienist. Practitioners in the field typically take a written exam upon completion of their initial degree as well as a clinical dental hygiene exam and a law exam.

“Then you can obtain a license, which allows you to practice,” she said.

“There are lots of jobs in dental hygiene,” she continued. “From marketing and sales-related positions on the business side of the house to practice consultants, all of whom typically need a bachelor’s degree, to public health clinicians and educators, who usually have a master’s degree.”